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Our Team

Maggie Whitmire

IMG_3105Under the direction of founder and head guide Maggie Whitmire, Montessori Country Day has grown from modest beginnings in 2004 to a thriving community of children, parents and teachers.

“Our teachers are the heart of our school.”

Maggie fell in love with the Montessori method in the 1980s when her daughter Melissa attended a Montessori school in Flower Mound, Texas. The school was Maggie’s introduction to Montessori and the namesake of our own Montessori Country Day.

When she volunteered in her daughter’s class, Maggie was hooked! She obtained her Montessori Certification and began teaching. When her family moved to North Carolina, she worked in an Asheville Montessori school for twelve years. As a parent, she enjoyed watching her own children learn and grow in a Montessori setting.

In 2004, Maggie founded the first Montessori Country Day in Arden. In 2012, she opened the Hendersonville campus. This week, Maggie said a fond farewell as long-time teacher Penny Marcus purchased the Arden school. Maggie will continue to own, direct and possibly teach at the Hendersonville school.

Maggie’s sincere love for children has been the driving force behind nearly three decades of teaching. She strives to provide them with the best possible environment to be nurtured, learn and grow.

Rufus Whitmire

“Mr. Rufus” (as the children call him) the co-owner and business manager of Montessori Country Day. When he’s not busy with the business of MCD, he plays as much golf as possible.

Rufus has a BA in Accounting and an MBA in Finance. After a career in the corporate world and commercial real estate, he owned and operated Whitmire Monument Company and Montessori Country Day.

The Whitmire’s’ greatest joys are being with family, especially their three children. Their daughter, Melissa, is the Administrative Assistant at MCD and lives in Hendersonville. Their son, Derek, lives in Charlotte and is a Financial Planner with Vanguard. His wife, Sara, is a Therapist and a Professor at Pfeiffer University. Their youngest son, Austin, is a junior in high school.

Laurie Wilkins

LaurieWe are so pleased our long-term substitute Laurie has agreed to be our Assistant Director. You will find her in the office and around the school assisting all of us.

A note from Laurie:
“It is a pleasure to be working with the staff at Montessori Country Day. You may have seen me around. I’ve had the great opportunity to work as a substitute since April. I have been working with young children for 30 years as a teacher, staff educator, and program manager in a variety of programs and places. I thought I was ready to retire, but missed being with children, families, and the early education community.

“When I have time off, I play outside. My husband and I hike several times a month, and I am a gardener-in-progress. Any other time is spent with my grandchildren (ages 1 and 4) and my daughters. All wonderful subjects for my rediscovered interest in photography.

“I hold a master’s degree in early education, and I am excited to extend my learning to the Montessori method. I have learned so much in the last six months here at MCD. I know and enjoy your children, and I look forward to getting to know all the families, too.”

MichelleWhether she’s caring for children in our primary classroom or tending her garden and chickens, Michelle knows love is the key to success.

Before coming to Montessori, Michelle had heard from a former coworker that it was a cold, unloving method of teaching.

“Boy, was she wrong!! Maggie and the teachers here changed my mind. MCD is the most loving, caring school I have ever worked in. I love the Montessori method and its focus on the individual child and hands-on learning so much that I am now in the process of beginning my Montessori teacher training.”

Michelle’s Montessori training will build on her previous studies in business, accounting, elementary education and early childhood education at Blue Ridge Community College, Haywood CC, and Mars Hill.

Outside of MCD, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband of 20 years, Tim, and their two boys, TJ and Matthew. They have a dog, two cats, and ten chickens. For fun, she likes to work in her garden, read, sew, crochet and do embroidery.

Erin Carter

2016-06-24 15.02.23From the stage to the Twos and Threes classroom, Erin loves to engage imaginations.

She earned her associate’s degree in Drama from Blue Ridge Community College, and she still enjoys acting in plays. (You can bet her students always have an awesome dress-up area!)

Erin is working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education. When she’s not teaching or learning, she loves to spend time with her daughter, Rose, “the most important person” in her life. She is also very close with her mother and father.

Erin appreciates how Montessori encourages a great independence and sense of achievement:

“I’ve been told that I talk with children like they are little people. Well, I do because they are. Montessori is the philosophy that best fits the way I view early education.”

Michelle Gogolin

MichelleMichelle cares for Toddlers after school and substitutes as needed in the mornings.

Along with her husband, Aaron, and daughter, Genevieve, Michelle recently moved from Cleveland to enjoy our warmer climate and beautiful mountains.

Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in early childhood education. She’s very excited to be working at MCD.

She appreciates and understands how our curriculum teaches children to become independent thinkers in an orderly and supportive environment.

In her leisure time, Michelle enjoys art, hiking, movies, and playing the guitar and piano.



Jennifer Knaus

IMG_1028Laughing is Jennifer’s favorite, and she brings smiles and laughter to her students in the Toddler classroom every day.

Jennifer is a Hendersonville native and East Henderson HS graduate. She studied early childhood education at Blue Ridge Community College and earned her Early Childhood Credentials in 2012.

She has 3 beautiful daughters: Lilly, Hazel, and Frances. They enjoy playing games and watching movies together (especially Nicolas Sparks movies and comedies).
MCD-FB-FB_IMG_1470332130489Montessori Country Day gave Jennifer a whole new view of early childhood education. In her first early childhood job, the teachers were mean to each other and impatient with children. Learning didn’t seem fun.

“Then, I found Maggie. When I walked into her school for the first time I couldn’t believe what a difference I was seeing and hearing.

I love Montessori for so many reasons. I love the individual expectations for the children. I love the feeling of community and respect that are a part of daily routines. I also love the level of independence Montessori encourages. There is nothing more amazing than the look on a child’s face who is truly proud of what they’ve accomplished. I could go on and on. I am just so thankful to be a part of something so incredible.”

Kara McNerney

DSCF0129Kara is an avid observer in nature and in her primary classroom, where she helps students discover beauty in each other and the world around them.

With a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Ohio State University, Kara went on to earn her Montessori primary certification from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. During her 9+ years as a Montessori teacher, Kara has worked with ages from toddlers to 12 year olds.

“I love how Montessori classrooms foster independence. I love the emphasis on grace and courtesy and real life skills…like how to be a member of a community, solve problems, be a peacemaker and think for yourself. I am excited for my second year here at Montessori Country Day.”

Kara lives near the Rocky Broad River with her husband, Mike, two daughters, Iris and Stella, and dog. Her daughters (now in middle and high school) attended several years of Montessori school.

On any given weekend, you might find Kara “traipsing around in the woods looking at birds, flowers, rocks, and other interesting things.” Or she might be canoeing, kayaking, hiking, swimming, mountain biking, camping, or trying to do yoga on a stand-up paddleboard. She also spends a lot of time driving her girls around!

Amy Morgan

20140910_120441-1Amy brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and love to the Toddler Classroom.

A Montessori veteran, Amy taught in a primary classroom for nine years in Chicago prior to moving to WNC four years ago. She received her 0-3 years American Montessori International Certification and an Assistant to Infancy Diploma in 1997. She earned a master’s degree in education in 1998 and holds two additional master’s degrees in child development (2005) and social work (2006).

She has been working with children and families in varying capacities for over 20 years.

In her free time, she enjoys family time with her husband and three children exploring many of the activities the mountains have to offer. They also enjoy jumping on the trampoline, campfires, family movie night, healthy nutrition, and good friends.

Amy looks forward to meeting all the families, and she is extremely excited to be working with young children in a Montessori environment again!

Madelyn PetrovichDSCF0166

Madelyn enjoys traveling the world and sharing it with her students in the Twos and Threes Classroom.

Madelyn is an Asheville native, who graduated from Appalachian State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education. She’s very close to her mother and sisters and their two very spoiled little dogs.

Madelyn’s greatest passions are teaching, language, and travel. Before she came to MCD, she taught in 4 different countries. Her goal is to visit 30 countries and all 7 continents before her 30th birthday.

Madelyn is excited to be part of Montessori Country Day:

“I love the individualized approach used at MCD. I have found that my own life moves much more seamlessly when I apply Montessori philosophies.”

Amanda Smith

2016-06-24 15.04.15Amanda’s creativity shines at work as an after school teacher and at home as a wife, mom, and artist.

Amanda has her bachelor’s degree in Sociology Family Development with a minor in Psychology from Appalachian State University. Her husband Ethan is her best friend. They love talking and laughing with their daughter, Josephine aka “Josie.”

Amanda and her family enjoy going out to eat (especially Mexican and places with great dessert), seeing movies, spending time with friends, and participating in her church, Northview. She also creates watercolor paintings and has her own shop on Etsy.

“Why Montessori? I love the freedom and hands-on learning style!”



Chris Stanfield

MCD-FB-IMG_0225As an after school teacher, Mr. Chris brings energy, enthusiasm, and smiles to the playground and classroom. He enjoys working with children, and as a new dad, he looks forward to spoiling his own son, Abraham, with kindness and hugs.

Chris earned his associate’s degree in Elementary Education at Blue Ridge Community College. He is now pursuing his bachelor’s at Mars Hill.

Outside of school and school, he enjoys all outdoor pursuits, especially when joined by his lovely wife, Lauren. He spends his summer guiding zipline tours, and he’s always excited to return to MCD in fall.

“It is my pleasure to learn and grow with your children. Thank you for taking the time to read about me and feel free to swing by and chat anytime. I look forward to meeting all of you and your children.”